Wolves defender Richard Stearman was today hoping to start a new international career after being finally cleared to play for Ireland.
FIFA’s Players’ Status Committee informed the FAI of the decision 11 months after the association submitted its application for the former Leicester stopper to play for the Republic.
For Stearman, this completes a long process which began when he informed the FAI of his desire to switch allegiance from England to Ireland two years ago.
Although Stearman was born in Wolverhampton and grew up in Market Harborough, he is eligible for an Irish passport courtesy of his Irish-born grandparents on his mother’s side.
The 26-year-old played for England Under-21s in 2008 before alerting the FAI, via Wolves team-mate Kevin Doyle, of his willingness to switch countries.
With his passport collected last November, the FAI applied to FIFA.
And both he and Alex Pearce, the Reading defender who played for Scotland Under-18s before contacting the FAI 18 months ago about his willingness to switch nations, have been given the green light to represent Ireland in competitive internationals.
The first international Stearman is eligible for is a friendly against Serbia on March 5, though they could yet have a game during the international break next month.
If Stearman is capped, he will become Wolves’ fourth current Ireland international, with Doyle, Kevin Foley and Stephen Ward, who is on a season-long loan at Brighton, also full caps.
Ironically, his eligibility to play for Ireland comes as his old Wolves boss Mick McCarthy, who signed him for the club and took him on loan to Ipswich last season, has been linked with the vacant Irish manager’s job after the FAI’s decision to sack Giovanni Trapattoni after they failed to qualify for next summer’s World Cup.
Stearman said in July: “All my family on my mother’s side are Irish and I’m looking to get on the international scene.”